Wilmette Historical Museum – Hosting Sharon Hoogstraten and Sarah Stegner

Potawatomi in the New Millennium
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Remarkable photographs

Sharon Hoogstraten is an amazing photographer and story teller, and Sarah Stegner is an amazing chef. The Wilmette Historical Museum hosted an event in October  2018 that paired the talents of these women to the delight of those who attended this viewing, talk and tasting. And there were many people who came.

Photographs and a dress

Hoogstraten’s photographs of Potowatomi individuals, which are remarkable, had been on display at the Museum since June and this event was designed as a final opportunity to see these photographs before they were disassembled. As guests arrived, they were warmly greeted by Kathy Hussey, Armtson Director at the Wilmette Historical Museum, and sent on to view the gorgeous photographs and read about Old Wilmette. Before long we were called upstairs to a large open space with tables set for tasting food. Sarah Stegner who is the Chef at Prairie Grass Cafe along with her staff prepared food in the tradition of the Potawatomi.  There was buffalo and corn cakes, a mixture of vegetables that included squashes and nuts and beans.

Delicious food

There was Lakota Squash and desserts made with grains and corn.  There were also drinks that were inspired by Potowatmi recipes. Everything was delicious and healthy. Everyone seemed to be enjoying one another’s company.

Food to match the talk

I chatted with Mary who was born and raised in Wilmette and continues to live there and continues to love it. Before long, Sarah Stegner took the microphone to talk with the group about how it happened that she provided this special food.  She talked about how chefs think of ways to provide the tastiest food and how that usually relates to obtaining food that is very fresh. She talked about her suppliers and various programs they have developed in an attempt to provide seasonal organic produce.  She talked about foraging and how that relates to the native American approach to food preparation.

Indians on the North Shore

And then she introduced Sharon Hoogstraten who shared the story of a trip she took recently from Michigan to Oklahoma, showing slides of the various experiences that she captured along the way.  She is a member of the Potawatomi Indian Tribe.  Her family was one of two non-native families in early Chicago and we were shown photos of a small cabin that had once housed family members.  There was a remarkable photo of her great great-grandmother, the one who was an early settler.

Potawatomi-Indian Way, Grandmothers lead

The photos in the exhibition were remarkable, large, filled with life and depicting the traditions of the tribe.  Hoogstraten plans to gather her amazing photos into a book which she will be working on soon.  You can see many of these photos online at hoogstratenphotography.

Recommended Reading

The Wilmette Historical Museum was the perfect place for the exhibition and for this unique event. The Museum’s website states that:The Wilmette Historical Museum is dedicated to exploring, preserving, and sharing the lively history of Wilmette and its surroundings. The Museum is located in a beautiful 1896 landmark building at 609 Ridge Road in Wilmette, and is open to the public five days a week: Sunday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Admission is always free of charge, and families are very welcome.

wilmette historical museum

Here is a Sarah Stegner recipe

About Prairie Grass Cafe .prairiegrasscafe


Photos: B. Keer


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